Hikes in High Places
In this slim paperback volume, Bill Rozday presents nature writing at its best. We are a little mislead by its title, Hikes in High Places, expecting a trail-guide sort of book with a practical manual to assist, educate, and inform hikers. Instead the book is not much about the hiking itself but about an area’s flora and fauna, its ecology, its geology, a bit of history, and sometimes the early inhabitants before the Europeans. The writing is exceptional, elegant, almost poetic, and this is not the kind of book you want to read from cover to cover in one sitting—rather you want to slowly savor it one short chapter at a time. Rozday divides the book into twenty hikes, each one four to six pages, a few longer. His focus is on nature, and while coming across individual plants or animals he also gives their scientific Latin names. He introduces each hike, giving its location in truly telegraphic style—short but adequate—though to find the place you’ll also want to refer to a good map. Following each chapter he gives a brief tip, something you would be wise to keep in mind (a good place to swim; a trail where solo hikes are unsafe; when is the best time to hike to take advantage of full bloom). Rozday’s use of carefully chosen words is also exceptional—the mark of a superb writer.
The hikes are throughout the country, including five in British Columbia. Most of them are in high places, but some are barely above sea level. It’s not so much the height but their descriptions that define each short chapter. The book is not without fault yet deserves the highest rating. A location map would’ve been useful, as would illustrations. A few very poor small black-and-white photographs are included, but most readers would like either better photos or good complementary sketches to make the book complete.
|Virgin Pines Press
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|Science & Nature